I Suck at Editing

Anneliese Fox
2 min readMar 2, 2022

And I admire those who are good at it.

Image of old mill foundation wall, Valley Falls, Vernon, Connecticut. Doesn’t have that much to do with the post, but the story discussed features gray-green rock-like creatures. Photo by author.

I’ve been working on a short fiction piece (flash fiction, actually) for the past few weeks. Writing it wasn’t a biggie. For me, it never is. Finishing it, however, is another matter.

I shared my little eight hundred word opus with a couple of friends. Writer friends, who unlike me, enjoy editing and are good at it.

For me, editing is way down near the bottom of things I’d like to do. Maybe a little higher than folding laundry, but not much. But, like folding laundry, the job isn’t done until it is done. Laundry has the advantage in that it takes a lot less time.

It was quite fun to watch folks editing my piece, though. And informative. For all my closeness to the story, they were able to see things I could not. They found paragraphs that were slightly out of order, suggested stronger tags, and could better evaluate where there was too much exposition. I can’t say that they taught me anything about editing specifically. But to watch someone do it easily, almost automatically, without struggling was enlightening.

I will continue to do my own editing. I’ll never be as good an editor as someone who enjoys the task, but I improve at it nevertheless. One of the big advantages I see of doing your own editing is this: when you recognize a common mistake that you make in writing and have to fix in editing, it becomes easier to avoid making the same mistake in future writing. My private ambition is to get so good at writing that very little editing is needed. I’ve made fair progress with that goal, but I’ve still a ways to go.

I highly recommend working with someone who edits at a higher level than you write. You’ll learn a lot about writing effectively that way. If you have the opportunity to observe someone editing your work, you’ll get to see how the process really works. If you’re lucky, you’ll witness two kinds of joy: yours, for having a stronger piece of writing, and theirs, for doing something that is just plain fun — to them, at least.

As for the story I wrote? I’ll be submitting it for publication later this week. If it ends up not selling anywhere, it may end up on my website. After all this editing, I think it’s pretty good.

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Anneliese Fox

Writer of speculative fiction, programmer, artist in wood and clay, owner of Fox Computer Systems. My almost weekly blog follows what interests me at the moment